1/23/09
10:05 am

MacMost Now 192: Solio iPod and iPhone Solar Power Chargers

In this MacWorld Expo special take a look at the Solio line of solar powered batteries. They can be used to charge your iPod or iPhone.

Video Transcript
Gary Rosenzweig: Hi! This is Gary at MacMost Now. On today's MacWorld Expo Special I check out the Solio solar panels for your iPod and iPhone.
Now I've heard of the Solios before, but I didn't think they were so cool. For instance, you could plug one in, and it will charge up its internal battery all day long. Then you can plug your iPhone in at the end of the day. If you've gotten a good charge, you could basically charge your iPhone every day just off of solar power. It's pretty neat. I caught up with Conrad from Solio, and he told me more about it.
Conrad: The basic concept of a Solio is that it's a rechargeable battery. There's a chip inside that understands the charging specs of over 1,000 different devices. When you put the right tip inside the Solio, it modulates the power so that it charges it as if it were plugged in the wall.
Then the third concept is a hybrid. So we either charge our battery in the sun. It fills up our battery in 8 to 10 hours. Or you plug our Solio into USB or into the wall, and carry around an extra charge. The optimal use of a Solio is that wherever you've got a charge, make sure you charge up your Solio so that when you run out of batteries, the Solio is ready to charge.
We have a number of users that are traveling through airports. They're carrying an iPod. They're carrying a mobile phone. They might have a digital camera. They bring around the Solio fully charged, and they bring their appropriate tip so they've got one power supply.
We have a lot of users that are in extreme sports, snowboarding, skiing, and hiking. They bring the Solio along with them. They bring a full charge. When it comes time to power up their iPod or their mobile phone, they use the battery to charge their phone. Then they put it in their dashboard of their car. There's a suction cup that lets it stick to the window. There's a pencil that comes with it so that they can rotate it so that it's always 90% in the sun.
I have an iPhone. It's always low on power. I plug it in. I push a button on the back. The button is telling me how much power I have. I have 2 out of 5 blinks. Then it figures out what the device is, and then it delivers the power. Right now we're charging at wall speed, so as fast as you could plug this in the wall.
We have four different Solios ranging in price from $69 retail to $169 retail. This is $169. We have a version that looks like this that's not magnesium. That's $99. That's our classic Solio. We have users in 170 different countries. We're on our seventh version. That's the popular one. This is the one that's won the Mac awards, CES awards, design awards in many travel magazines.
The difference between the four models is all of them have the same thing in common. They all have a battery. They all have a chip that recognizes 1,000 different devices. They all have tips for most of the most common devices. They all are hybrid, so they charge in the wall or in the sun. As you pay more, you get more solar surface and you get more battery power.
We've got folks in Iraq. We've got Navy Seals that buy the Solios. We've got hikers, snowboarders, skiers. We've got scientists in the Arctic. We ask for everybody's story. So on Solio.com, you can go and you read about a hiker. You can see the Solio attached to a dogsled in the Arctic. You could see military army folks that are listening to their iPods charging up with iPods.
We've had close to a million users to date. For a lot of folks, this is their first foray into alternative technology. The philosophy at Solio is people, profit, and planet. Everything that we do we want to leave a positive impact. Our way of doing that is to make something that's fun and cool. We've got a lot of fun users that are in extreme sports that are exposing the Solio to people who have not seen any solar technology before. So we want it to be fun, practical, cool, but also impacting on the planet.
Gary: I found the prices to be pretty reasonable, too. You can check out all the different products at Solio.com. 'Til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.